We hear a lot of claims these days from various quarters that motoring in Ireland is changing at a rapid pace. Buyers are supposedly bombarding garages with requests for electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars and that diesel is dead. Yes, car buyers are investigating, even if they are not investing in the alternatives but the time is coming that more will consider alternative fuels.
Costs will always be the defining factor, and while there are people who think that imposing certain policies will change the international motoring landscape, if it doesn’t make sense in the pocket, then it won’t succeed in the forecourts.
Kia has an immediate goal to reduce the average fuel consumption of their range by 25% by 2020 compared to their 2014 figure. It’s a laudable aim and one that is not fanciful by any means. To head in that direction, they have launched their first Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) – the Niro PHEV.
Before we get into the technology, let’s examine the Niro as a car first. It has a shape that I have liked from the start with an SUV/Crossover-inspired silhouette with sharp, modern lines and the Kia brand’s characteristics riding on 16-inch alloy wheels and optional full-LED headlamps, with LED turn signals, are also available.
Inside, the cabin is presented with a whole lot of style and gives an impression of space with a wide dashboard and defined horizontal lines. This particular version is upholstered in single-tone grey leather seat trim, finished with blue stitching, and features a two-tone dashboard with a new blue air vent surround.
On the road, the Niro handles well and while it lacks real sharpness in the corners, it is competent enough with sufficient stability and grip. It is pretty nifty around town, being at a nice height and good visibility all round. It is also steady on the motorway, was not unduly affected in the high winds that we have had recently and gobbles up the miles with little fuss.
Like all Plug-in Hybrids the Niro offers buyers an alternative to compact crossovers powered by traditional petrol or diesel engines. In this case drivers can complete short journeys of up to 58km with zero emissions and zero fuel consumptions. Plug it in at home overnight or at fast charge points along your route and the batter is recharged for even more cost-free driving.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.